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May 2008

At the K-Level

At FrancochampsYEARS AGO, IN AN environment that sounds so harshly foreign to many of  my work colleagues today, I worked in an organisation as a K-level employee, in some ways like a Formula One driver. More than 350,000 people worked in this organisation but in my specialism, fewer than 350 of those people would be qualified to sit in my seat. No day was and less than 12 hours long. Some days overlapped. The phones would trigger a crescendo of different pulses, ring tones and flashing lights and you decided how high up the console to squelch the noise. For nearly three years, I endured that job and then resolved to get out of it, never to return to the top of my game.

To my right elbow at the moment, a clear blue sky shows a plane full of holiday makers overhead,flying ahead of contrails towards a summer sun destination. As a K-level controller, I would be the voice at the end of a phone call that would turn planes around or direct them into safe havens. By using exceptionally powerful HF radio transmitters, I could throw my voice around the world, under the sea, and into the belly of concrete bunkers where other K-levels would respond to familiar requests with no questions asked.

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In the Halls at the IEEC

John Hurley: Sharing Education MaterialsI SPENT MOST OF THE DAY in the hallway and in the workshops during the 2008 edition of the Internet Experience in Education Conference (IEEC). The event actually started in Dublin the day before, when Ewan McIntosh got us a free pass into the office of the Minister for Trade and Commerce to chat briefly about what Ireland might do to increase the percentage of third level graduates with higher competencies in mathematics and languages. Without achieving higher marks in those areas, Google and other knowledge-hungry companies will take their interests into another part of the world. Like several other educators attending the IEEC, I have opinions about what Ireland's education system can do to enhance the graduate skills in computing, maths, and creativity. Some of those opinions reverberated in the hallways of Tipperary Institute today. A few of the ideas might well become part of a Focus Group with a charter to pilot programmes at the first, second and third level of education in Ireland.

A few more thoughts unfold below, and in the caption for the photo above left.

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Ewan McIntosh Visits Sunny Ireland

Ewan McIntoshEWAN McINTOSH, the technologist at left who teaches me elegant uses of easy-to-use digital tools, visits Ireland for the Internet Experience in Education Conference, a day-long hands-on set of training experiences for primary and secondary school educators that will be hashed as #ieec on Twitter and also available in a Jaiku channel too. As I wrote on the Open Mailing List, Ewan "has thoughts that fit front-and-centre in the work of several Open readers." There's a casual meet-up before the Champions League Final in The Bailey, Main Street, Cashel. A handful of us will maintain viewing positions in Brian Boru Pub during the Champions League Final. We will record Ewan's presentation and release it through our podcasting channel. Some of the day's activities will feature on Qik (, mostly segments of the afternoon workshops on 22 May. By 9PM on Thursday, Ewan will be safely bedded down in the Cork International Airport Hotel, my personal recommendation and well-deserving to be on the short list of venues for the 2009 Irish Blog Awards.

See Ewan McIntosh as a high-resolution guy. Read what Ewan writes about coming to Tipperary.


Getting Social in Ireland

Irish Social MediaONE OF THE most significant shifts of online behaviour is happening among Irish internet users. Dozens of early adopters are starting to spend more time using social media instead of browsing websites or watching online video clips. The largest clusters of Irish internet users appear in social sites like Bebo,, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. Recently, analysts began referring to them as social media sites.

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All Communities Are Not Equal


LIKE MANY PEOPLE in the Irish Twitterverse, I endure a lot of missing uptime with Twitter. It's a microblogging system that few of my work colleagues know about or would ever use. That means Twitter is not something valued by my work community. In a nutshell, that is the most telling feature of Twitter. Since most of my immediate work circle would have neither the time for Twitter nor the patience for its irritating downtime. I know I will sideline its use before too long. Because I cannot follow a conversation easily on Twitter, I often look rude to people asking questions. Because Twitter cannot scale easily beyond 2m users, its system architecture has to cut off interesting functions like instant messaging, RSS newsfeeds, and history archives. Lately, I'm seeing a lot of the big whale on screen (that's because of a scalability service issue, not because of a scobalable restriction), advising me that's Twitter's a little stressed. So I head back into my email backlog where I'm sure to find someone from two decades ago who discovered me by finding this weblog. They wouldn't have a hope in locating me if all I had to my name was a Twitter archive (if an archive actually existed).

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Mowser Mobi

MowmobiRUSS BEATTIE AND crew have sold Mowser to the dotMobi crew. As announced on Yahoo Business News, dotMobi acquired Mowser's site and technology. They plan to bolt a growing number of services targeted at mobile publishers on top of Mowser. James Pearce has wrote more about the acquisition. He is joined in Dublin by Mike Rowehl, working out details of the transition, offering some consulting and new coding ideas.


Russ Beattie -- "Mowser Mobi"
Yahoo Business -- "dotMobi Acquires Mowser Assets", 9 May 2008.
James Pearse -- "dotMobi Loves Mowser" on the blog.
Mike Rowehl -- "$dotMobi[] = $Mowser"

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10 Things for Brian Cowen

I READ FRANK McDonald's advice to the new head of the Irish Government. [1] I agree with most of his advice.

1. Tax cars for carbon. McDonald wants a carbon tax. I want petrol heads to pay more to drive but if I drive an electric vehicle or an H2 car, I don't want to pay more than sales tax.

2. Allow local authorities to raise their own revenue. Let them charge property tax.

3. Halt govt decentralisation. It does not enhance the delivery of govt services.

4. Kick-start the regeneration of Cork and Limerick docklands. The Irish govt knows how to attract revenue-generating business to wastelands. Do it for the scrapheaps along the water in Cork and Limerick.

5. Cancel the Metro North project.   It is one of Bertie's pets and it lacks value for money. And it will take ages to recover lost tax takings if St Stephen's Green is excavated. There is more value and less disruption with an interconnector.

6. Fast-track the rail inerconnector. Connecting Heuston to Spencer makes so much sense.

7. Direct Dublin Port to relocate to Bremore. Drogheda Port is right next to the Dublin-Belfast railway and within 2100m of the M1 motorway. Let passengers use Dublin Port. Push the containers north of Dublin.

8. Cancel the new Abbey Theatre in the Docklands. The Abbey belongs in O'Connell Street.

9. Reinstate the Freedom of Information Act . Cowen's legacy could shine as a government under sunshine.

10. Review M3 route near Tara.    Commuters there could respect the national heritage by driving on an upgraded N3.

1. Frank McDonald -- "10 ways to make a difference to the environment" in The Irish Times, 10 May 2008.
2. Sent mail-to-blog aboard Aircoach on the Naas Road using my E90 connected to O2-Ireland 3G service.